Unbeaten 10th ranked Villanova romped over Big 5 rival La Salle 73-52 on Sunday afternoon at the Pavilion. For the victorious Wildcats, it was their third consecutive win over a Big 5 adversary (each by 20+ points) and their tenth straight win (10-0, 3-0 Big 5) to start the season.
Villanova outscored La Salle 35-18 in the second half to convert a close game (38-34 at halftime) into a dominating win. Darrun Hilliard led the way for the Wildcats with 21 points. Energetic freshmen Josh Hart, with 13 points, and Kris Jenkins, with 11 points, also scored in double figures for Villanova.
Jerrell Wright paced La Salle in scoring with 20 points, with 18 coming in the opening twenty minutes. Wright was held without a field goal in the second half. No other Explorer scored in double figures. La Salle’s top two scorers Tyrone Garland and Tyreek Duren were held in check by the Wildcats. Garland ended up with 7 points and Duren with 4 points. La Salle is now 5-5 overall and 0-1 in the Big Five.
After Villanova erased a slight La Salle lead (on a steal by Hilliard which culminated in a Hart layup) the Wildcats were up 18-17 at the 9:02 mark of the first half; the Wildcats never trailed again. Villanova pushed their lead to ten, 38-28 when Hilliard converted three foul shots with 1:14 remaining in the half. However, La Salle closed out the half scoring 6 straight points to make it 38-34 at the intermission.
In the second half, Villanova’s energy and depth took over. La Salle, which went to the Sweet 16 last year, could not keep pace as the game went on. Villanova ‘s bench outscored La Salle’s 29-15.
Villanova shot 49% from the field (25-51). The Wildcats hit 6 of their 24 three-point attempts. On the other side of the ledger, Villanova limited La Salle to 1 of 13 (7.7%) shooting from distance. The Wildcats won the battle on the boards 35-29. JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ochefu, who had a very strong game, each collected 7 rebounds. Ochefu added 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Dylan Ennis had 7 assists and 0 turnovers to lead the Wildcats.
Villanova returns to action Saturday, December 21st when it entertains Rider at 4pm at the Pavilion. La Salle will try to get back on track when it hosts Wagner at 7pm on Thursday, December 19th.
[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]
You can view the full post-game press conference video (Villanova) and additional photos in the gallery below (click thumbnails to enlarge):